Herve Lamizana (6-10, 215) and Sean Axani (6-8, 235) form a solid inside out duo for Rutgers in the front court. Lamizana has range out to the three-point line, while Axani provides much of the muscle work in the lane. The former's 14.0 points and 8.3 rebounds are better than Axani's 5.5 points and 6.4 boards per game, but the two feed off one another in a clear case of the sum being greater than its parts.
The Scarlet Knight backcout and perimeter players provide the bulk of the scoring, and despite the junior- and senior-dominated lineup, it's a freshman that has provided the biggest boost to Rutgers' fortunes this year. Marquis Webb (6-5, 205) has become the all-around glue that the Scarlet Knights have lacked in seasons past. He averages 7.0 points and 3.6 rebounds per game, and also leads the men of Brunswick in assists.
Webb's partners in the backcourt are leading scorer Ricky Shields (6-4, 185) and role player Juel Wiggan (6-3, 185). Shields scores 14.8 points per game and also nabs 4.6 rebounds per contest. Shields is also an excellent three point shooter who takes more than 62% of his field goal tries from beyond the arc. Wiggan (5.2 points, 2.2 rebounds per game) is respectable, but barely gets more time than another talented freshman, Quincy Douby (6-3, 175). Douby has earned Big East rookie of the week honors, and averages 11.5 points in just over 22 minutes of action per game. He like Shields, makes more shots from behind the arc than anywhere else on the floor.
Also providing help off the bench is Adrian Hill (6-8, 225), who totals 6.0 points and 4.7 rebounds while getting more than 22 minutes of time per game. Massive Byron Joynes (6-9, 280) is the team's dedicated banger, recording more fouls than any other player despite averaging just 11 minutes per contest.
Lamizana, like Fischer, is a rangy player who can shoot from anywhere on the floor. As a result, the matchup between these two players will have a great impact on the outcome of the game.
|Wed 2/25 6:30 p.m.|
WVU 14-9, 6-6
RU 15-9, 6-7
Fox Sports Pitts
WVU - 72
RU - 40
|Margin: RU +5|
WVU might, when they go man to man, put Kevin Pittsnogle on Lamizana, but that could cause more problems than it might solve. While Fischer would then likely stay inside to cover Sean Axani and patrol the line, it could leave the Mountaineers vulnerable to midrange shots from Lamizana.
Whether WVU is in man to man or their 1-3-1 defense, Fischer will have to be aware of Lamizana's presence and step out to cover him when he's in shooting position. Lamizana will likely get the ball in the high post or at the elbow of the free throw line, and from there he can't be left uncontested.
Fischer, meanwhile, has to become more aggressive and quick with his post moves. Facing smaller Pitt defenders, Fischer had a tough time using his height advantage to get shots off. While Fischer has been working on his post moves, he needs to improve the tempo and pace with which he makes those moves on the low block and in the lane.
RU: Calvin Wooten (Knee) Doubtful
First and foremost, West Virginia will have to defend the three point shot against the Scarlet Knights, who are canning 37.2% of their treys. With that goal, look for the Mountaineers to play mostly 1-3-1 and man to man in an attempt to clamp down on the Rutgers shooters. Of the Knights' top eight players, six are realistic threats to fire up a three.
The Mountaineers also need to avoid falling behind early in the game. That may seme overly simplistic, but WVU simply doesn't have the firepower to score in bunches and erase a big deficit. West Virginia needs to get off to a good start and avoid playing from behind, especially in the noisy atmosphere of the Louis Brown Center, also known as the RAC.
The winner of this game will keep faint hopes of an NCAA bid alive. The loser will likely have to adjust their sights to working for an NIT berth. That factor, plus the animosity that seems to exist in this basketball series, promises to make this game a heated battle. The team that can keep its composure and execute under pressure is likely to be the one that comes out with a berth in the Big Dance still on its list of goals.
After going through several starting lineup changes, WVU has used the same five players to begin the last five games.
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After ripping off runs of 32-3 and 23-0 in wins over Virginia Tech and Northern Colorado, Rutgers was on the short end of a 23-2 run in their 76-44 loss to Boston College.
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D'or Fischer is just four blocked shots away from tying Damian Owens (98) for sixth on the WVU all-tine list. Depending on the number of games West Virginia gets in the post season, Fischer could move as high as fourth on the all-time list.
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Only three teams (UTEP, Seton Hall, and BC) have shot higher than 50% from the field against the Scarlet Knights.
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West Virginia tied a Coliseum record with just five turnovers against Pitt. WVU's guards did not committ a turnover in the game.